Cybercrime and Cyberbullying are the two threats, which we can’t end that easily. As technology is advancing, so does illegal internet activities. We daily hear cases about internet frauds, online transaction frauds, personal information leaks, etc.. And since the COVID-19 outbreak started, from business operations to education, everything shifted to the internet. Due to this, cybercriminal activities have also increased. Trust me on this. It will only increase over time.
What do you know about Cybercrime?
The crime takes place primarily online. Once it was a distant peril, but now, it’s virtually knocking on your doors. Mobile or desktop apps, websites, and devices that we use regularly serve a purpose to either perturb us into sharing financially or sensitive information or beguile. And when we realize our mistake, it’s way too late.
Cybercriminals commit crimes by targeting those devices or computer networks. It ranges from identity theft to security breaches. And now, cyberbullying is another thing we need to worry about now. Over the last few months, the cases of cyberbullying have significantly risen, especially among kids and teenagers. Revenge porn, harassment, child sexual exploitation, and bullying are other forms of cybercrimes.
Although security agencies all over the world work 24/7 to keep us safe, it is also our responsibility to have some common sense and alertness. Let’s take a look at a few factors that can help you to protect against cyber theft:
Using Strong Password
Never repeat your passwords for multiple accounts. Imagine a key that opens multiple doors. It’s the same with your password. The only difference is, obtaining a duplicate in cyberspace is easy. To prevent this, you need to create a strong password and change them after a particular period. Also, don’t set up the same password for multiple sites. You can use a password management app to manage your passwords. Also, visit Have I Been Pwned website to check whether your email account got hacked at some point or not.
Set up Two-Factor Authentication
The second method is to enable two-factor authentication. It is an extra layer of security to protect your online accounts. In this method, when you enter your username and password, instead of directly gaining access, you need to provide another piece of information to make sure that you are the original account holder. The first step to set up 2FA is confirmation via text message. The information might include the following:
- A PIN, a password, answers to secret questions that you set up while creating the account, specific keystroke pattern, etc..
- A biometric pattern of fingerprint, voiceprint, or an iris scan, is a much-advanced category.
Update Software & Applications
Some people tend to avoid an update notification for an app or software. Whether you are using a smartphone or desktop, there are plenty of applications and software that offers regular updates. These updates are for fixing any bugs or flaws that were residing in the system. If you don’t update them, cybercriminals will exploit those flaws in your software to gain access to your device. Patching those bugs or flaws decreases the risk of becoming victim to cyber-crime.
Keep Tabs of children’s Internet Activities
Since online classes have started, children’s access to internet facilities has increased. You need to teach your kids how to use the internet appropriately without shutting down communication channels. They should know the difference when someone is doing online bullying, harassment, or stalking. Also, it’s your responsibility to check their online activities regularly and ask them if there’s anything suspicious that happened with them.
Distinguish between original websites & phishing
Most cyberattacks, from an online scam to hacking bank details, involve fake websites and phishing emails. You should know how to differentiate between a trusted site and a fake website. Pay attention to the interface, the color, logo, URL structure, an extra field in the authentication form, if any. Let’s look at some attributes of a phishing email:
- Emotional tone: These emails seek to raise curiosity, promise rewards/compensation/points, or invokes fear. The author of such emails is a threat actor.
- Posing as someone else: A threat actor that pose as someone you are aware of, and using that person’s profile and signature to commit the crime. In most cases, you can identify that the sender is a fake by carefully looking at its email address. It will be different from the original one.
- A ‘Hurry Up’ call: When a sender urges you to rush like, ‘Hurry Up!, Open this email ASAP, 24 Hours left until your points expire, etc.,’ mark it as spam or delete it immediately.
Also, pay attention to the address bar when accessing websites. The sites that include ‘HTTP:‘ are not secure and posses a potential threat. Always access the websites with the ‘HTTPS:” protocol.
Be Aware of Scammers
When opening email attachments, take extra precautions even if you were expecting it, and the sender is known. Never open a link attached to an unsolicited email. If you are not sure about the attached links or files received, use online services to verify them, such as:
Be extra careful when transferring money online. Make sure it’s the right account and shop online only from renowned entities. Do not share confidential details or passwords with executives of any website or company. No bank, company, or website handler asks for such data from the users over phone calls. You should know about it.
Guard against Identity Theft
Identity theft is common nowadays. It occurs when someone obtains your data in unethical manners like fraud or deception. You might get tricked by someone into giving confidential information over the internet, or a thief might get access to your mail for accessing account information. That’s why you need to guard your personal information. VPN, for instance, is a virtual private network that can help in protecting the data you send or receive online. It is also helpful when you are using public Wi-fi or the internet.
What to do if you become a victim of cybercrime?
In case you become a victim of a cybercrime, alert the local police, or cyber cell as-soon-as-possible. It is necessary even though the crime is minor. If the scam relates to transaction fraud, then alert your bank also. Your report will assist the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation, which might help in catching criminals before they take advantage of other people. Also, change the online credentials immediately and block your bank account if you have to do so.
Strengthen your home network with a VPN, avoid any emails that seem suspicious, and always ask your children about their online activities. Fighting cybercrime is everybody’s responsibility. It’s an obligation that you need to do your part if you want to keep yourself safe. Report the cybercrime to relevant authorities on time. It might be a little, but it’s a great help.